- "But if we're captured, I'm not going back to Spain or San Augustin. I would rather die."
The Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida in 1513. While on an exploratory trip in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth he sighted the eastern coast of Florida on Easter Sunday, which fell on March 27 that year. Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for the Spanish Crown and named it La Florida after the Easter season, known in Spanish as Pascua Florida. This newly claimed territory extended north and west to encompass most of the known lands of the North American continent that had not been claimed by the Spanish in New Spain.
In 1564 French Huguenots (Protestants) succeeded in establishing a fort and colony near the mouth of the St. Johns River at what is today Jacksonville. This settlement posed a threat to the Spanish Treasure Fleets that sailed the Gulf Stream beside the east coast of Florida, carrying treasure from Central and South America to Spain. As Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was assembling a fleet for an expedition to Florida, the French intrusion upon lands claimed by Spain was discovered. King Philip II instructed Menéndez, Spain's most capable admiral, to remove the French menace to Spain's interests.
On September 8, 1565, Menéndez set foot on the shores of Florida. In honor of the saint whose feast day fell on the day he first sighted shore, Menéndez named the colonial settlement San Augustin. Menéndez quickly and diligently carried out his king's instructions. With brilliant military maneuvering and good fortune, he removed the French garrison and proceeded to consolidate Spain's authority on the northeast coast of Florida. San Augustin was to serve two purposes: as a military outpost, or Presidio, for the defense of Florida, and a base for Catholic missionary settlements throughout the southeastern part of North America.
English pirates pillaged and burned the town on several occasions in the 17th century. Clashes between the Spaniards and the British became more frequent when the English colonies were established in the Carolinas. The Spanish moved to strengthen their defenses, beginning in 1672 construction of a permanent stone fortress. The Castillo de San Marcos was brought to completion late in the century, just in time to meet an attack by British forces from the Carolinas in 1702. Unable to take the fort after a two-month siege, the British troops burned the town and retreated.
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Caribbean (First mentioned)
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Turning Tide (Mentioned only)